With Lee in Virginia by G. A. Henty
Chapter XIII. Laid Up.
"You must see a surgeon whatever the risk," Lucy said when the others joined them, for now that it was light she could see by the paleness of Vincent's face, and the drawn expression of the mouth, how much he had suffered.
"You have made so light of your wound that we have not thought of it half as much as we ought to do, and you must have thought me terribly heartless to be laughing and talking when you were in such pain. But it will never do to go on like this; it is quite impossible for you to be traveling so far without having your shoulder properly attended to."
"I should certainly be glad to have it looked to," Vincent replied. "I don't know whether the bullet's there or if it has made its way out, and if that could be seen to, and some splints or something of that sort put on to keep things in their right place, no doubt I should be easier; but I don't see how it is to be managed. At any rate, for the present we must go on, and I would much rather that you said nothing about it. There it is, and fretting over it won't do it any good, while if you talk of other things I may forget it sometimes."
In two hours they came upon the railway, whose course lay diagonally across that they were taking. They followed it until they caught sight of the houses of Mount Pleasant, some two miles away, and then crossed it. After walking some distance farther they came upon a small clearing with a log-hut, containing apparently three or four rooms, in the center.
"We had better skirt round this," Vincent suggested.
"No," Lucy said in a determined voice. "I have made up my mind I would go to the first place we came to and see whether anything can be done for you. I can see you are in such pain you can hardly walk, and it will be quite impossible for you to go much further. They are sure to be Confederates at heart here, and even if they will not take us in, there is no fear of their betraying us; at any rate we must risk it."
Vincent began to remonstrate, but without paying any attention to him the girl left the shelter of the trees and walked straight toward the house. The others followed her. Vincent had opposed her suggestion, but he had for some time acknowledged to himself that he could not go much further. He had been trying to think what had best be done, and had concluded that it would be safest to arrange with some farmer to board Lucy and her nurse for a time, while he himself with Dan went a bit further; and then, if they could get no one to take them in, would camp up in the woods and rest. He decided that in a day or two if no improvement took place in his wound he would give himself up to the Federals at Mount Pleasant, as he would there be able to get his wound attended to.
"I don't think there is any one in the house," Lucy said, looking back over her shoulder; "there is no smoke coming from the chimney, and the shutters are closed, and besides the whole place looks neglected."
Upon reaching the door of the house it was evident that it had been deserted. Lucy had now assumed the command.
"Dan," she said, "there is no shutter to the window of that upper room. You must manage to climb up there and get in at that window, and then open the door to us."
"All right, missie, me manage dat," Dan said cheerfully. Looking about he soon found a long pole which would answer his purpose, placed the end of this against the window, and climbed up. It was not more than twelve feet above the ground. He broke one of the windows, and inserting his hand undid the fastening and climbed in at the window. A minute later they heard a grating sound, and then the lock shot back under the application of his knife, and the door swung open.
"That will do nicely," Lucy said, entering. "We will take possession. If the owners happen to come back we can pay them for the use of the place."
The furniture had been removed with the exception of a few of the heavy articles, and Chloe and Lucy at once set to work, and with bunches of long grass swept out one of the rooms. Dan cut a quantity of grass and piled it upon an old bedstead that stood in the corner, and Lucy smoothed it down.
"Now, sir," she said peremptorily to Vincent, "you will lie down and keep yourself quiet, but first of all I will cut your coat off."
One of the table-knives soon effected the work, and the coat was rolled up as a pillow. Dan removed his boots, and Vincent, who was now beyond even remonstrating, laid himself down on his cool bed.
"Now, Chloe," Miss Kingston said when they had left Vincent's room, "I will leave him to your care. I am sure that you must be thoroughly tired, for I don't suppose you have walked so many miles since you were a girl."
"I is tired, missie; but I am ready to do anyting you want."
"I only want you to attend to him, Chloe. First of all you had better make some tea. You know what is a good thing to give for a fever, and if you can find anything in the garden to make a drink of that sort, do; but I hope he will doze off for some time. When you have done, you had better get this place tidy a little; it is in a terrible litter. Evidently no one has been in since they moved out."
The room, indeed, was strewed with litter of all sorts, rubbish not worth taking away, old newspapers, and odds and ends of every description. Lucy looked about among these for some time, and with an exclamation of satisfaction at last picked up two crumpled envelopes. They were both addressed "William Jenkins, Woodford, near Mount Pleasant."
"That is just what I wanted," she said.
"What am you going to do, Miss Lucy?"
"I am going to Mount Pleasant," she said.
"Lor' a marcy, dearie, you are not going to walk that distance! You must have walked twelves miles already."
"I should if it were twice as far, Chloe. There are some things we must get. Don't look alarmed, I shall take Dan with me. Now, let me see. In the first place there are lemons for making drink and linseed for poultices, some meat for making broth, and some flour, and other things for ourselves; we may have to stay here for some time. Tell me just what you want and I will get it."
Chloe made out a list of necessaries.
"I sha'n't be gone long," the girl said. "If he asks after me or Dan, make out we are looking about the place to see what is useful. Don't let him know I have gone to Mount Pleasant, it might worry him."
Dan at once agreed to accompany the girl to Mount Pleasant when he heard that she was going to get things for his master.
Looking about he found an old basket among the litter, and they started without delay by the one road from the clearing, which led, they had no doubt, to the town. It was about two miles distant, and was really but a large village. A few Federal soldiers from the camp hard by were lounging about the streets but these paid no attention to them. Lucy soon made her purchases, and then went to the house that had been pointed out to her as being inhabited by the doctor who attended to the needs of the people of Mount Pleasant and the surrounding district. Fortunately he was at home. Lucy looked at him closely as he entered the room and took his seat. He was a middle-aged man with a shrewd face, and she at once felt that she might have confidence in it.
"Doctor," she said, "I want you to come out to see some one who is very ill."
"What is the matter with him? Or is it him or her?"
"It is--it's--" and Lucy hesitated, "a hurt he has got."
"A wound, I suppose?" the doctor said quietly. "You may as well tell me at once, as for me to find out when I get there, then I can take whatever is required with me."
"Yes, sir. It is a wound," Lucy said. "His shoulder is broken, I believe, by a pistol bullet."
"Umph!" the doctor said. "It might have been worse. Do not hesitate to tell me all about it, young lady. I have had a vast number of cases on hand since these troubles began. By the way, I do not know your face, and I thought I knew every one within fifteen miles around."
"I come from the other side of the Duck river. But at present he is lying at a place called Woodford, but two miles from here."
"Oh, yes! I know it. But I thought it was empty. Let me see, a man named Jenkins lived there. He was killed at the beginning of the troubles in a fight near Murfreesboro. His widow moved in here; and she has married again and gone five miles on the other side. I know she was trying to sell the old place."
"We have not purchased it, sir; we have just squatted there. My friend was taken so bad that we could go no further. We were trying, doctor, to make our way down south."
"Your friend, whoever he is, did a very foolish thing to bring a young lady like yourself on such a long journey. You are not a pair of runaway lovers, are you?"
"No, indeed," Lucy said, flushing scarlet; "we have no idea of such a thing. I was living alone, and the house was attacked by bushwhackers, the band of a villain named Mullens."
"Oh! I saw all about that in the Nashville paper this morning. They were attacked by a band of Confederate plunderers, it said."
"They were attacked by one man," the girl replied. "They were on the point of murdering me when he arrived. He shot Mullens and four of his band and the rest made off, but he got this wound. And as I knew the villains would return again and burn the house and kill me, I and my old nurse determined to go southward to join my friends in Georgia."
"Well, you can tell me more about it as we go," the doctor said. "I will order my buggy round to the door, and drive you back. I will take my instruments and things with me. It is no business of mine whether a sick man is a Confederate or a Federal; all my business is to heal them."
"Thank you very much, doctor. While the horse is being put in I will go down and tell the negro boy with me to go straight on with a basket of things I have been buying."
"Where is he now?" the doctor asked.
"I think he is sitting down outside the door, sir."
"Then you needn't go down," the doctor said. "He can jump up behind and go with us. He will get there all the quicker."
In five minutes they were driving down the village, with Dan in the back seat. On the way the doctor obtained from Lucy a more detailed account of their adventures.
"So he is one of those Confederate officers who broke prison at Elmira," he said. "I saw yesterday that one of his companions was captured."
"Was he, sir? How was that?"
"It seems that he had made his way down to Washington, and was staying at one of the hotels there as a Mr. James of Baltimore. As he was going through the street he was suddenly attacked by a negro, who assaulted him with such fury that he would have killed him had he not been dragged off by passers-by. The black would have been very roughly treated, but he denounced the man he had attacked as one of the Confederate officers who had escaped from the prison. It seems that the negro had been a slave of his who had been barbarously treated, and finally succeeded in making his escape and reaching England, after which he went to Canada; and now that it is safe for an escaped slave to live in the Northern States without fear of arrest or ill-treatment he had come down to Washington with the intention of engaging as a teamster with one of the Northern armies, in the hope when he made his way to Richmond of being able to gain some news of his wife, whom his master had sold before he ran away from him."
"It served the man right!" Lucy said indignantly. "It's a good thing that the slaves should turn the tables sometimes upon masters who ill-treat them."
"You don't think my patient would ill-treat his slaves?" the doctor asked with a little smile.
"I am sure he wouldn't," the girl said indignantly. "Why, the boy behind you is one of his slaves, and I am sure be would give his life for his master."
Dan had overheard the doctor's story, and now exclaimed:
"No, sah. Massa Vincent de kindest of masters. If all like him, do slaves eberywhere contented and happy.
What was de name of dat man, sah, you was speaking of?"
"His name was Jackson," the doctor answered.
"I tought so," Dan exclaimed in excitement. "Massa never mentioned de names of de two officers who got out wid him, and it war too dark for me to see their faces, but dat story made me tink it must be him. Berry bad man that; he libs close to us, and Massa Vincent one day pretty nigh kill him because he beat dat bery man who has catched him now on de street of Washington. When dat man sell him wife Massa Vincent buy her so as to prevent her falling into bad hands. She safe now wid his mother at de Orangery--dat's the name of her plantation."
"My patient must be quite an interesting fellow, young lady," the doctor said, with a rather slight twinkle of his eye. "A very knight-errant. But there is the house now; we shall soon see all about him."
Taking with him the case of instruments and medicines he had brought, the doctor entered Vincent's room. Lucy entered first; and although surprised to see a stranger with her, Vincent saw by her face that there was no cause for alarm.
"I have brought you a doctor," she said. "You could not go on as you were, you know. So Dan and I have been to fetch one."
The doctor now advanced and took Vincent's hand.
"Feverish," he said, looking at his cheeks, which were now flushed. "You have been doing too much, I fancy. Now let us look at this wound of yours. Has your servant got any warm water?" he asked Lucy.
Lucy left the room, and returned in a minute with a kettleful of warm water and a basin, which was among the purchases she had made at Mount Pleasant.
"That is right," the doctor said, taking it from her. "Now we will cut open the shirt sleeve. I think, young lady, you had better leave us, unless you are accustomed to the sight of wounds."
"I am not accustomed to them, sir; but as thousands of women have been nursing the wounded in the hospitals, I suppose I can do so now."
Taking a knife from the case, the doctor cut open the shirt from the neck to the elbow. The shoulder was terribly swollen and inflamed, and a little exclamation of pain broke from Lucy.
"That is the effect of walking and inattention," the doctor said. "If I could have taken him in hand within an hour of his being hit the matter would have been simple enough; but I cannot search for the ball, or in fact do anything, till we have reduced the swelling. You must put warm poultices on every half-hour, and by to-morrow I hope the inflammation will have subsided, and I can then see about the ball. It evidently is somewhere there still, for there is no sign of its having made its exit anywhere. In the meantime you must give him two tablespoonfuls of this cooling draught every two hours, and to-night give him this sleeping draught. I will be over to-morrow morning to see him. Do not be uneasy about him; the wound itself is not serious, and when we have got rid of the fever and inflammation I have no doubt we shall pull him round before long."
"I know the wound is nothing," Vincent said; "I have told Miss Kingston so all along. It is nothing at all to one I got at the first battle of Bull Run, where I had three ribs badly broken by a shell. I was laid up a long time over that business. Now I hope in a week I shall he fit to travel."
The doctor shook his head. "Not as soon as that. Still we will hope it may not be long. Now all you have to do is to lie quiet and not worry, and to get to sleep as quick as you can. You must not let your patient talk, Miss Kingston. It will be satisfactory to you, no doubt," he went on turning to Vincent, "to know that there is no fear whatever of your being disturbed here. The road leads nowhere, and is entirely out of the way of traffic. I should say you might be here six months without even a chance of a visitor. Every one knows the house is shut up, and as you have no neighbor within half a mile no one is likely to call in. Even if any one did by accident come here you would be in no danger; we are all one way of thinking about here."
"Shall we make some broth for him?" Lucy asked after they had left the room.
"No; he had best take nothing whatever during the next twenty-four hours except his medicine and cooling drinks. The great thing is to get down the fever. We can soon build him up afterward."
By nightfall the exertions of Dan, Lucy, and Chloe had made the house tidy. Beds of rushes and grass had been made in the room upstairs for the women, and Dan had no occasion for one for himself, as he was going to stop up with his master. He, however, brought a bundle of rushes into the kitchen, and when it became dark threw himself down upon them for a few hours' sleep, Lucy and her old nurse taking their place in Vincent's room, and promising to rouse Dan at twelve o'clock.
During the easy part of the night Vincent was restless and uneasy, but toward morning he became more quiet and dozed off, and had but just awoke when the doctor drove up at ten o'clock. He found the inflammation and swelling so much abated that he was able at once to proceed to search for the ball. Chloe was his assistant. Lucy felt that her nerves would not be equal to it, and Dan's hand shook so that he could not hold the basin. In a quarter of an hour, which seemed to Lucy to be an age, the doctor came out of the room.
"There is the bullet, Miss Kingston."
"And is he much hurt, sir?"
"It is a nasty wound," the doctor replied. "The collarbone is badly broken, and I fancy the head of the bone of the upper arm, to put it in language you will understand, is fractured; but of that I cannot be quite sure. I will examine it again tomorrow, and will then bandage it in its proper position. At present I have only put a bandage round the arm and body to prevent movement. I should bathe it occasionally with warm water, and you can give him a little weak broth to-day. I think, on the whole, he is doing very well. The feeling that you are all for the present safe from detection has had as much to do with the abatement of the fever as my medicine."
The next morning the report was still satisfactory. The fever had almost disappeared, and Vincent was in good spirits. The doctor applied the splints to keep the shoulder up in its proper position, and then tightly bandaged it.
"It depends upon yourself now," he said, "whether your shoulders are both of the same width as before or not. If you will lie quiet, and give the broken bones time to reunite, I think I can promise you that you will be as straight as before; but if not--putting aside the chances of inflammation--that shoulder will be lower than the other, and you will never get your full strength in it again. Quiet and patience are the only medicines you require, and as there can be no particular hurry for you to get south, and as your company here is pleasant and you have two good nurses, there is no excuse for your not being quiet and contented."
"Very well, doctor. I promise that unless there is a risk of our being discovered I will be as patient as you can wish. As you say, I have everything to make me contented and comfortable."
The doctor had a chat with Lucy, and agreed with her that perhaps it would be better to inform the mistress of the house that there were strangers there. Some of the people living along the road might notice him going or coming, or see Dan on his way to market, and might come and ascertain that the house was inhabited, and communicate the fact to their old neighbor.
"I will see her myself, Miss Kingston, and tell her that I have sent a patient of mine to take up his quarters here. I will say he is ready to pay some small sum weekly as long as he occupies the house. I have no doubt she would be willing enough to let you have it without that; for although I shall say nothing actually I shall let her guess from my manner that it is a wounded Confederate, and that will be enough for her. Still, I have no doubt that the idea of getting a few dollars for the rent of an empty house will add to her patriotism. People of her class are generally pretty close-fisted, and she will look upon this as a little pocket-money. Good-by! I shall not call to-morrow, but will be round next day again."
On his next visit the doctor told Lucy that he had arranged the matter with her landlady, and that she was to pay a dollar a week as rent. "I should not tell your patient about this," he said. "It will look to him as if I considered his stay was likely to be a long one, and it might fidget him."
"How long will it be, doctor, do you think?"
"That I cannot say. If all goes well, he ought in a month to be fairly cured; but before starting upon a journey which will tax his strength, I should say at least six weeks."
Ten days later Vincent was up, and able to get about. A pile of grass had been heaped up by the door, so that he could sit down in the sun and enjoy the air. Lucy was in high spirits, and flitted in and out of the house, sometimes helping Chloe, at others talking to Vincent.
"What are you laughing at?" she asked as she came out suddenly on one of these occasions.
"I was just thinking," he said, "that no stranger who dropped in upon us would dream that we were not at home here. There is Dan tidying up the garden; Chloe is quite at her ease in the kitchen, and you and I might pass very well for brother and sister."
"I don't see any likeness between us-not a bit."
"No, there is no personal likeness; but I meant in age and that sort of thing. I think, altogether, we have a very homelike look."
"The illusion would be very quickly dispelled if your stranger put his head inside the door. Did any one ever see such a bare place?"
"Anyhow, it's very comfortable," Vincent said, "though I grant that it would be improved by a little furniture."
"By a great deal of furniture, you mean. Why, there isn't a chair in the house, nor a carpet, nor a curtain, nor a cupboard, nor a bed; in fact all there is is the rough dresser in the kitchen and that plank table, and your bedstead. I really think that's all. Chloe has the kettle and two cooking-pots, and there is the dish and six plates we bought."
"You bought, you mean," Vincent interrupted.
"We bought, sir; this is a joint expedition. Then, there is the basin and a pail. I think that is the total of our belongings."
"Well, you see, it shows how little one can be quite comfortable upon," Vincent said. "I wonder how long it will be before the doctor gives me leave to move. It is all very well for me who am accustomed to campaigning, but it is awfully rough for you."
"Don't you put your impatience down to my account, at any rate until you begin to hear me grumble. It is just your own restlessness, when you are pretending you are comfortable."
"I can assure you that I am not restless, and that I am in no hurry at all to be off on my own account. I am perfectly contented with everything. I never thought I was lazy before, but I feel as if I could do with a great deal of this sort of thing. You will see that you will become impatient for a move before I do."
"We shall see, sir. Anyhow, I am glad you have said that, because now whatever you may feel you will keep your impatience to yourself."
Another four weeks passed by smoothly and pleasantly. Dan went into the village once a week to do the shopping, and the doctor had reduced his visits to the same number. He would have come oftener, for his visits to the lonely cottage amused him; but he feared that his frequent passage in his buggy might attract notice. So far no one else had broken the solitude of their lives. If the doctor's calls had been noticed, the neighbors had not taken the trouble to see who had settled down in Jenkins' old place. His visits were very welcome, for he brought newspapers and books, the former being also purchased by Dan whenever he went into the village, and thus they learned the course of events outside.
Since Antietam nothing had been done in Northern Virginia; but Burnside, who had succeeded McClellan, was preparing another great army, which was to march to Richmond and crush out the rebellion. Lee was standing on the defensive. Along the whole line of the frontier, from New Orleans to Tennessee, desultory fighting was going on, and in these conflicts the Confederates had generally the worse of things, having there no generals such as Lee, Jackson, and Longstreet, who had made the army of Virginia almost invincible.
At the last of these visits the doctor told Vincent that he considered he was nearly sufficiently restored in health to be able to start on their journey.
"It is a much better job than I had expected it would turn out. I was almost afraid that your shoulder would never be quite square again. However, as you can see for yourself it has come out quite right; and although I should not advise you to put any great strain on your left arm, I believe that in a very short time it will be as strong as the other."
"And now, doctor, what am I in debt to you? Your kindness cannot be repaid, but your medical bill I will discharge as soon as I get home. We have not more than twenty dollars left between us, which is little enough for the journey there is before us. You can rely that the instant I get to Richmond I will send you the money. There is no great difficulty in smuggling letters across the frontier."
"I am very pleased to have been able to be of service to you," the doctor said. "I should not think of accepting payment for aid rendered to an officer of our army; but it will give me real pleasure to receive a letter saying you have reached home in safety. It is a duty to do all we can for the brave men fighting for our cause. As I have told you, I am not a very hot partisan, for I see faults on both sides. Still, I believe in the principle of our forefathers, that each State has its own government and is master of its own army, joining with the others for such purposes as it may think fit. If I had been a fighting man I should certainly have joined the army of my State; but as it is, I hope I can do more good by staying and giving such aid and comfort as I can to my countrymen. You will, I am sure, excuse my saying that I think you must let me aid you a little further. I understand you to say that Miss Kingston will go to friends in Georgia, and I suppose you will see her safely there. Then you have a considerable journey to make to Richmond, and the sum that you possess is utterly inadequate for all this. It will give me real pleasure if you will accept the loan of one hundred dollars, which you can repay when you write to me from Richmond. You will need money for the sake of your companions rather than your own. When you have once crossed the line you will then be able to appear in your proper character."
"Thank you greatly, doctor. I will accept your offer as frankly as it is made. I had intended telegraphing for money as soon as I was among our own people, but there would be delay in receiving it, and it will be much more pleasant to push on at once."
"By the way, you cannot cross at Florence, for I hear that Hood has fallen back across the river, the forces advancing against him from this side being too strong to be resisted. But I think that this is no disadvantage to you, for it would have been far more difficult to pass the Federals and get to Florence than to make for some point on the river as far as possible from the contending armies."
"We talked that over the last time you were here, doctor, and you know we agreed it was better to run the risk of falling into the hands of the Yankee troops than into those of one of those partisan bands whose exploits are always performed at a distance from the army. However, if Hood has retreated across the Tennessee there is an end of that plan, and we must take some other route. Which do you advise?"
"The Yankees will be strong all round the great bend of the river to the west of Florence and along the line to the east, which would, of course, be your direct way. The passage, however, is your real difficulty, and I should say that instead of going in that direction you had better bear nearly due south. There is a road from Mount Pleasant that strikes into the main road from Columbia up to Camden. You can cross the river at that point without any question or suspicion, as you would be merely traveling to the west of the State. Once across you could work directly south, crossing into the State of Mississippi, and from there take train through Alabama to Georgia.
"It seems a roundabout way, but I think you would find it far the safest, for there are no armies operating upon that line. The population, at any rate as you get south, are for us, and there are, so far as I have heard, very few of these bushwhacking bands about either on one side or the other. The difficult part of the journey is that up to Camden, but as you will be going away from the seat of war instead of toward it there will be little risk of being questioned."
"I had thought of buying a horse and cart," Vincent said. "Jogging along a road like that we should attract no attention. I gave up the idea because our funds were not sufficient, but, thanks to your kindness, we might manage now to pick up something of the sort."
The doctor was silent for a minute.
"If you will send Dan over to me to-morrow afternoon I will see what can be done," he said. "It would certainly be the safest plan by far; but I must think it over. You will not leave before that, will you?"
"Certainly not, doctor. In any case we should have stayed another day to get a few more things for our journey."
The next afternoon Dan went over to Mount Pleasant. He was away two hours longer than they had expected, and they began to feel quite uneasy about him, when the sound of wheels was heard, and Dan appeared coming along the road driving a cart. Vincent gave a shout of satisfaction, and Lucy and the negress ran out from the house in delight.
"Here am de cart. Me had to go to five miles from de town to get him. Dat what took me so long. Here am a letter, sah, from the doctor. First-rate man dat Good man all ober."
The letter was as follows:
"My Dear Mr. Wingfield: I did not see how you would be able to buy a cart, and I was sure that you could not obtain one with the funds in your possession. As from what you have said I knew that you would not in the least mind the expense, I have taken the matter upon myself, and have bought from your landlady a cart and horse, which will, I think, suit you well. I have paid for them a hundred and fifty dollars, which you can remit me with the hundred I handed you yesterday. Sincerely trusting that you may succeed in carrying out your plans in safety, and with kind regards to yourself and Miss Kingston,
"I remain, yours truly,
"That is a noble fellow," Vincent said, "and I trust, for his sake as well as our own, that we shall get safely through. Now, Lucy, I think you had better go into the town the first thing and buy some clothes of good homely fashion. What with the water and the bushes your dress is grievously dilapidated, to say the least of it. Dan can go with you and buy a suit for me--those fitted for a young farmer. We shall look like a young farmer and his sister jogging comfortably along to market; we can stop and buy a stock of goods at some farm on the way."
"That will be capital," the girl said. "I have been greatly ashamed of my old dress, hut knowing we were running so short, and that every dollar was of consequence, I made the best of it; now that we are in funds we can afford to be respectable."
Lucy started early the next morning for the town, and the shopping was satisfactorily accomplished. They returned by eleven o'clock. The new purchases were at once donned, and half an hour later they set off in the cart, Vincent sitting on the side driving, Lucy in the corner facing him on a basket turned topsy-turvy, Dan and Chloe on a thick bag of rushes in the bottom of the cart.